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Food Photography Lighting Tips From Taylor Mathis

Photographer Taylor Mathis shows how different types of light will change the look of your food photography.

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Photographing FoodThis is an extract from Photographing Food, an ezine written and shot by food and lifestyle photographer Taylor Mathis. It's available as a PDF download and it formatted to work on a computer, iPad and iPhone. The ezine is currently available for $5 on the Photographing Food website -

You don't need expensive lighting gear to take beautiful pictures of your food. Using the powers of the sun, you can create captivating and mouthwatering images.

A daylight studio can be created in a variety of locations. Your daylight studio should have light coming in from one direction. A window in your kitchen, living room, or bedroom are great options. Look for a window that has an unobstructed view and lets plenty of light in. Ideally, you would want a north or south facing window, but any window light can work. The quality of light will depend on the time of year and time of day, where you are in the world, the direction that your window faces, and the weather. The light available to you will change throughout the day, so experiment and try different windows as different times of the day. If you don't have a window available to you, don't worry. Try your garage!

When a garage door is open. A large directional light source has been created. This directional light is perfect for an instant studio. The large area of a garage will give you plenty of room in which to work. In the following examples, I will demonstrate how to take beautiful pictures using a daylight studio.

Onions Garage

Onions Not all light is the same. Some light will have a hard quality to it while other light will have a softer quality. You can determine the quality of the light by looking at the shadows cast by your subject. If the shadows have sharp, defined edges then you are dealing with a hard light source. As you can see from the pictures, this direct sunlight entering the garage creates hard shadows, blow out highlights, and an unappetizing look to the food.

When dealing with foods, glassware, or other props that have a reflective quality to them, hard light will leave you with small specular highlights that can blow out very quickly. With a blown out highlight, the camera records the highlight as pure white with no information. These blown out highlights can cause problems with exposing the image properly especially in images with a large tonal range.

If a hard light source is causing your food to look unappetizing, you need to change it! Don't worry; this is easy and inexpensive to do.

A soft light source will make your dishes look delicious! Soft undefined shadow edges are a sign that you are working with a soft light source. On an overcast day, the sun shining through the clouds will create a soft diffused light source. If there are no clouds in the sky, you can make a diffused light by placing diffusion material between your subject and light source. This will create a nice, soft diffused light source.

Garage studio

See what the onions looks like with a white bed sheet used as a diffuser:

To read more, visit the Photographing Food website where the ezine can be purchased.

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9 Mar 2013 11:00PM
I'm confused.

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